Tag Archive: recover

Exchange Management Console Database Recovery

Exchange Management Console Database Recovery

I now extracted a new copy of the mailbox database from the backup, using NTBackup again. I restored it to my desktop, not the original location. I opened MS Exchange 2007 MC, and clicked on Toolbox in the navigation pane. Then I clicked on Database Recovery Management. I left everything default and hit next, next.

  1. I clicked Create a Recovery Storage Group.
  2. I left everything as default, default name, and linked it to the First Storage Group, which now contains my current mailboxes.
  3. After the wizard completed, I navigated to the location of the storage group folder, which is inside my First Storage Group folder.
  4. I copy all of the files from the restored Exchange database folder- about 3 Gb in 25 files.
  5. I then try to mount the database from inside the Database Wizard- which comes back with some MapiCallError. Gah!
  6. So I run Repair Database. It gives me a warning- but at this point, who cares.
  7. I let it run, and it completes. And the database mounts successfully!

Now how do I get the mail back? I run the Merge or Copy wizard, which I zip through not really knowing what is going on- and after completion, it restored no mailboxes, the GUID did not match. So I take some more time, and click advanced options. I match and sort by Mailbox Name and try to merge again- still an error with the matching. So I go back into advanced options, and I Restore them to my admin mailbox. I create a folder called Restore, and select all the mailboxes to restore. This runs for a while, and I am seeing items appear.

And then they stop appearing, and my email slows to a crawl. Ugh, Exchange. I delete all of the exported items, half of which did not show up anyhow. So I decided to try a slower approach. I export ONE users mailbox into my mailbox at a time, and it worked. I then exported each of the items from that restored mailbox out of Outlook to a shared folder. I go to a workstation, and log in as that user, and then import their old mail items back into their Exchange mailboxes. It works, thank God. There is a way to do it from the server using EMS, but this requires Exchange Tools 32bit, which you can’t install on a 64bit server. So since I would need to go to another PC anyways, I might as well just restore them from PST files. A whole lot of this episode could have been avoided by knowing exactly what was going on- which I now do. If anyone needs any advice, please feel free to post here and I will do my best to provide the appropriate resources.

I will say that this was a really really tough job to do- going into it I had never even touched an Exchange database or transaction log except to break them. The issue was that last month I performed a full server format and install. The backups were not working, and the office needed services. so I formatted C: and reinstalled SBS2008. I set up the domain exactly the same- same DNS, IP configurations, even the same software and hardware.

As you might guess, a format and reinstall- even if it is EXACTLY the same- does not restore users mailboxes. So I went about trying to extract the mail items directly from the mailbox database files. This didn’t work, as EXmerge is discontinued. In order to use it to extract .PST files you need to install 32bit Exchange Tools, which I did not have the time nor patience for. If you need to find Exmerge it can be downloaded from Microsoft here, and documentation on the process can be found in KB259688.

I then set about recovering users email. I had just restored the server at this point, to what I though were exactly the same settings as before. Working with Exchange database’s can be nerve-racking if you don’t know what you are doing- they are huge, usually premissioned away from normal access, located in one of several places on a server. I though I would just try to stick the database back in and turn on Exchange to see if it worked. So I navigated to D:/Program Files/Microsoft/Exchange Server/Mailbox/. I then dismounted the Exchange databases from inside of EMC, and stopped Exchange services including Information Store and Transport. I renamed the First Information Store folder to First Information StoreOLD, and created a new folder. I then copied all of the Exchange files that I extracted from the backup, using legacy NTBackup. I had a script on the old server that ran a NTBackup of Exchange.

(This is a good practice by the way, which allows me to mess with Exchange backups without restoring other things on the server. NTBackup can be found here, and some tips on using it are here. Mind you the tutorial is for SBS 2003, but the general gist is applied to the newer version.)
So, after all of the files copied over, I restarted Exchange. I ran the BPA, and got some major errors about not being able to mount the stores. I then tried to run the database recovery tools on them, still getting the you-broke-exchange errors.

Uh-oh. What the heck am I doing? So I reversed all of that, and put it on a back burner for a bit. I calmly explained to users that they lost years worth of email and had to deal with it- oh boy. But wait… There is another solution, at least temporarily. Since the domain is the same, but the workstations had not yet been rejoined to the domain, old logon credentials might exist. I sat down with a user to log in, and got a security error. Darn. So I unplugged the workstation from the network, and we then logged on using old cached credentials.

We open up Microsoft Office Outlook. Hit File, Export (or appropriate), and exported Inbox, Sent Items, Contacts, and Calendars to .PST files. We saved them on the root of C: drive, anywhere in the current profile would be lost once we left the domain. At this point we plug the workstation in and then I join it to the domain using Computer>Properties>Network ID. The domain solace.local is already there, and that is the same domain name as well. So I delete the .local, and rejoin the solace domain. Reboot, have the user log in/create a new profile/change password/etc. Open up Outlook, and reverse the export process, importing the .PST files. All of their items were then added to their NEW Exchange mailbox.

The only problem came up when I got to the 20 users who did not have Outlook, and who worked remotely using OWA. How can you export .PST files from OWA? Well, you can’t. So these users I had to explain to them how badly I sucked, and that it wasn’t my fault, and that this sort of thing happens, and that no- we had not planned a disaster recovery plan. Pretty much anything so I could go hom and go to sleep.

I put this on the back burner for a week, asking users to contact people about resending them mail, or whatever they had to do to get by. I then set to researching Exchange Recovery Storage Groups. Great tutorials here and here.

I then realized that I had not applied SP2 to Exchange 2007, which had been applied before the re-install. Sweet- so I downloaded and ran the Exchange SP2 Install Tool from MS. Ran Exchange SP2, which succeeded. Restarted the server, made sure all my services were up and running- Transport was not, so I started that. As far as I could tell, everything was peachy. Gonna continue this in a new post..

I recently tried to install Desktop Experience on SBS 2008 to enable some of the advanced features of WSS 3.0 such as exploring content with Windows Explorer, saving directly to document libraries from Microsof Office, and browsing the site directories. I made the mistake of applying this feature addition while other server upgrades were going on, namely an upgrade to the latest BIOS. This was a mistake- make sure you enable this feature and reboot when nothing else is pending on the server, such as a reboot from other upgrades. 

Desktop Experience Feature

Desktop Experience Feature


Anyhow, after the reboot the server was trashed. Couldnt get into Windows, no safe mode- nothing. So I had to perform a full server restore. Being as I have had to restore the server twice with major failures requiring a format, I was hesitant to do this. The good news is that it all went seamlessly.

Since the server was going to be offline, and it was during a work day- my office needed internet connection. I did this easily by logging into the router and enabling DHCP with the default settings. Now- time to fix this box.

I rebooted the server with the Windows SBS2008 CD in the CD rom Drive. I then entered the BIOS by pressing F2, and changed some of the boot options, which had been reset to default. I chose to try to boot CD-Rom first, then the RAID HDD, then Network Boot. I disabled USB boot, because the HP Proliant servers have issued with having backup devices attached while booting. I did make sure USB support was enabled though.

After I re-booted again and hit a key to boot from the CD, I entered into Windows Restore. I selected Comple PC Restore. At this point I have none of my devices attached, not even the network. My RAID uses Embedded G5 RAID Controller software, which did not exist. So I plugged in my USB drive with the drivers on it, and clicked load drivers. I then selected my RAID driver, and then selected the now showing Windoes Server 2008 installation.

It did a quick search coming back that there were no backup devices attached- good. You don’t want them attached untill this point. I plugged in my 1Tb external HDD and hit retry a couple of times. A dialog box then appears allowing you to select a backup. I left this alone, as the most recent one was the one I was seeking. Note: Windows Time is not loaded at this time, so the time stamp on the backup will be offset by your timezone. I hit next.

Now it asks you what sort of restore you wish. I was nervous about the Format and Reinstall from backup options, so I went with restore these drives instead. I clicked advanced options and made sure I was restoring the system partition C:, as well as D:, which contains my Exchange and Sharepoint Databases. I left out A:, an alternate backup device. I then clicked restore, and let her run. One hour and forty-one minutes later I had a rebooting server. The first thing I did w3as go in and disable Windows Update temporarily untill I made sure everything was stable. I plugged in the network cable, and changed DHCP off of the router back to the server, and gave it a few minutes to sync up.I then ran some file level backups- since the server was restored, several workstations saved important files onto the server, such as medical billing claims and accounting Quickbooks backups. After these were restored, I ran SBS2008 BPA and Exchange2007 BPA to check for errors. I also had to rerun the Fix my Internet Wizard and also reconfigured my external domain name.

I used this site to double check against during my backup, they do a good job of explaining it.

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